A 53-YEAR-old Pumula man died last week while under police custody for allegedly buying a stolen television set.
Sifelani Dube’s death has angered his family and the Pumula community who claim he was tortured.
Sifelani was detained at Pumula Police Station and his family says he was tortured by the police trying to extract information from him about the alleged theft of the television set. Apparently, he had bought the set.
Sifelani, a popular figure in the suburb, was buried during a moving ceremony at West Park Cemetery on Saturday.
Yesterday family members were still gathered at the deceased’s residence in Old Pumula where they described his arrest on August 16 and the alleged torture.
“Three police officers, two in uniform and the other in plainclothes, came to the house in a silver BMW vehicle on Friday around 12pm. They demanded to see Sifelani who was indoors at the time,” Sifelani’s brother Thabani Ndlovu told Southern Eye.
“We did not know why the police wanted to see him, but we directed them to a room in the house where Sifelani was.
“Sifelani emerged from the room handcuffed.
“I asked the police what the problem was and they said that they wanted Sifelani to help them identify a criminal they were looking for.”
Ndlovu said Sifelani asked for permission to relieve himself, a request which was granted, but the police details did not release the handcuffs.
“After Sifelani was done, he struggled to fix his pair of trousers which were down his legs as he was still in handcuffs,” he said. “This did not go down well with the police who insulted him and attacked him.”
He said one police officer, identified as Mudzingwa, then used a thick dry tree branch to viciously strike Sifelani all over the body in full view of relatives and passers-by.
“Mudzingwa beat Sifelani using the branch until he fell to the ground after which he plucked another branch and continued to beat him instructing him to get up,” Ndlovu said.
Another man who said he was the deceased’s brother, but only identified himself as Dube, said police called him last Tuesday morning informing him that his brother was not feeling well and had to be rushed to the hospital.
“When I saw him at Mpilo Hospital under police guard, he was oxygenated and the nurses told me that he could only manage to take liquid foods,” Dube added.
He said he was later informed on the same day that his brother had died.
“I am still shocked about his death up to now,” Dube said. “He was a healthy, strong man who had never been hospitalised. I believe he finally succumbed to the injuries he got from the beatings.”
Residents said the police officer identified as Mudzingwa was known for his “brutality when dealing with suspects”.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo said he had not received a report about Sifelani’s death and expressed skepticism about the family’s account of what had transpired.
“I am not aware of that and have not received a report, but I will try to find out,” he said.
“But anyway I doubt if the police brutality thing is true. Do you think it is possible?” he questioned.